Feb 4, 2009

Riverlake Greenway Open House

I attended the Riverlake Greenway open house meeting this evening to get more information about the project and make any comments I might have. There was an interesting presentation by Don Pflaum (who I am glad to finally meet) followed by a comment session. 

Most of the participants seemed to be in favor of the project and  several just had questions. I did not hear anyone that was flat-out against it. At this point, the emphasis is on locking in the alignment of the greenway. The western leg of this project is on 40th Street to take advantage of the pedestrian bridge over I-35W and previous bike lane work by Kingfield. The route then drops south on Nokomis to 42nd and cuts east to the River Road. Time  is running out, so if you think that is a bad idea, you have very little time to comment.

The real problem area on the alignment is at Hiawatha Ave. This is a bad intersection that has been made worse by the Light Rail. The City was seeking input on what kind of provisions to make for bikes at this intersection. One commenter suggested doing nothing, and I agree, since putting in green bike lanes would narrow the intersection, and moving bikes on to the sidewalk would likely increase car/bike accidents. I feel this can't be fixed to make it safe enough for a casual or nervous rider and trying to do so will probably hurt traffic flow and not adequately protect novice riders.

They also have a stated preference for dedicated bike lanes where road widths allow for that rather than sharrows. I commented that my preference would be to give sharrows preference over bike lanes. My concern is that bike lanes send the message that bikes only belong in the bike lane, and sharrows reinforce that "share the road" mindset.

It strikes me that a lot of what the City does to improve cycling is aimed at what Don Pflaum called the "B and C" riders rather than the "A" riders, who will pretty much ride their bikes anywhere and are not intimidated by traffic. I get this, but I really want to see the City take on the real problems of people who use bikes during the work week for transportation and not on weekend recreational rides.  Connecting and completing bike routes in the central downtown and fixing the bike lanes that just end in the middle of nowhere seems like better ideas to me.

EDIT - MBL has a thread running on this topic right here.

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